Listening to the Transient Universe with Gravitational Waves

Listening to the Transient Universe with Gravitational Waves
Laura Cadonati, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Date and time: Wed, Oct 05, 2011 - 4:00pm
Refreshments at 3:45pm
Location: Hasbrouck 124
Category: Departmental Colloquium

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) and its sister project Virgo aim to achieve in the next few years the first direct detection of gravitational waves and open a new observational channel for some of the most violent and energetic events in the universe, such as colliding black holes and core-collapse supernovae. The installation of Advanced LIGO is in progress, aiming at a 2015 start date, and we are preparing for the moment when we will  tune in to the  gravitational-wave soundtrack of the Universe. This decade is expected to witness information from gravitational waves complement the multi-wavelength electromagnetic spectrum, neutrinos and cosmic rays, for a multi-messenger understanding of sources like gamma-ray bursts, soft-gamma repeaters, supernovae, and glitching pulsars.
In this talk I will give an overview of ongoing efforts towards the realization of this new gravitational wave astrophysics, and of how electromagnetic and neutrino observations and the theoretical understanding of source dynamics are coupled into gravitational wave analysis. I will present selected results from the initial generation of LIGO and Virgo data and outline prospects for discovery in the advanced detector era, with particular focus on transient signatures.